Top 10 Silly Web Development Ads

When taking a break from making websites, I sometimes peruse web development want ads on various sites. Certain types of ads recur, and they can be funny. Here, in some particular order, are some of my favorite types of ads.

SEO Wanted

Everyone wants good Google placement. Some of these requests are entirely legit, but after reading the fine print of many ads, it becomes clear that many of these sites are so bad that they deserve obscurity (or worse). For these cases, the real ad should read My Site Is Pure Drivel, So I Need Artificial Means To Prop It Up.

Wanted: Intern/Student/Young Person

Generally this means We’re Not Going To Pay You. Or if we do, you should be grateful that we’re willing to pay $5 per hour. Or they may offer this other favorite: we won’t pay, but you can put it in your portfolio. I’m sure someone would like to put their foot somewhere when reading that.

Wanted: Facebook Clone [or insert any other gigantic social network here]

Facebook

It is astounding, and kind of sad, how often these crop up. They think they can somehow re-invent the wheel and get rich. Best of all, they might be willing to pony up all of $75 to build this colossus. Or they can’t pay anything, so they offer 50% “ownership” in the “company”. The funniest variations of this are the ones that say “I’ve got this great idea for a site. It will be just like Facebook”.

Girl Friday Wanted

His Girl Friday: “You want me to do what?”

This isn’t widespread, but I’ve seen a few creepy variations. As far as I can tell, this is an attempt to turn back the clock on nettlesome things like women’s rights. Welcome to the 50’s – I Want A Hot Techie Chick Who Will Not Only Do All My Work So I Can Hit The Golf Course, But Will Also Be My Main Squeeze Until She Gets Fed Up With Me. Lest I only pick on Annoying Alpha Males, I have seen some gender-reversed and same-sex variations of this, too.

Just a Quick Change

… and willing to pay $25. This should read something like Need E-Commerce System, Complete Site Re-design, and Customized Forum But I’m Too Clueless To Grasp How Much Work That Is.

The Never-Ending List of Qualifications

These are simply agencies doing a cattle call. They’re filled with all possible buzzword technologies that even Superman/woman couldn’t handle. What they fail to note is that if, by a miracle, someone has these creds, they’re charging $150-$200 per hour or more. Well, why not aim big, I guess?

Look At Me, I’m Savvy

Maybe I’m too cheap to pay you, but I am a poet.

This tends to be the person that hired some offshore faceless agency at $10 per hour. The project went to hell for all the predictable reasons, and now, flush with experience, he’s taking a different tack, one that’s just as flushable. The dead giveaway is when he says “I know how much work and time this should take, so don’t screw me, and the pay is still ten bucks an hour!”

Local Only

In many cases, this is understandable. Some people just don’t like working with telecommuters, period. The problem is when they live in a town with a population of 73, and the system they want to use is only known by 500 people in the whole world. Um, good luck!

100%-ers – They Just Keep You Hanging On

This was only one ad, but I think it deserves a mention. It started like the Giant Agency Cattle Call above – a ginormous list of qualifications that probably took so long to write that they missed their first deadline. Then came this: “We require 100% Availability, 100% Commitment, and 100% Several Other Things”. The last line in the ad: “Job Is Part-Time”.

ADS USING ALL CAPS

All right, Worm! Write “I am a useless worm” in the subject line!

This is usually the guy who’s angry that his ad is generating spam replies from Pakistan or someplace, so he’ll admonish you to put so-and-so in the subject line, or it WILL BE IGNORED. Ironically, he’ll still have spam to delete anyway, so why tell the world that you’re highly irritable? The other big reason for ALL CAPS is that people aren’t reading his entire ad for all details, so dang it, is he pissed! So these should really be titled I’m a Very Impatient Boss Who Will Berate You For Any Mistake, And You Will Like It, Or Else.

In the original post, I forgot one real howler that is quite common. It usually has a fairly normal title and task description, but then when you read further, at the very end it says: Need this done by [insert day of the week here]. The target day is 2 days after the ad is placed, and the task is something that would take at least a solid week of work doing nothing else. A possible real title: I’m the Worst Project Planner Ever, and I want you to rescue me anyway, otherwise I’ll go out of business or get fired. As a bonus, I’m willing to berate you to go faster and pay you $5 per hour.

2 Comments


  1. Awesome post, Dave.

    I’ve seen so many of these ads on job boards like Elance and they are so dumb they can sometimes be angering. For me, the worst are the people who want a lot of work done for a “great” startup business idea but don’t want to pay for shit and people who act like they know what a project will take in terms of technical skill, time, and price. I’ve had experiences with these types on a few occasions, especially when I first started freelancing. Someone who could barely write coherent sentences (no clue of what HTML even was) once tried micro-managing me on a project. He also tried having his non-technical, poorly-written friends with cool-sounding titles (“Project Manager” and “Vice President of Operations”) try to micromanage me. Mind you, this “business” was non-existent and the business idea was idiotic. Needless to say, I didn’t take kindly to this. I wound up telling them all to fuck off, that they were idiots who needed to first get a grasp on writing at a high school level before calling themselves business people, and if they want to “manage” someone to hire an employee and pay them a wage (a difference between a contractor and an employee is that you can’t manage a contractor’s work like you can an employee). I never heard back from them.

    On my About page, I tell people that I really don’t care what their grandiose business idea is and how successful they think it will be. I charge for my services and if they don’t like how much I cost then they can go elsewhere. It’s appalling to see ads like this where people value knowledgable developers basically as much as Walmart values its part-time workers. It’s a shame that people have such bad experiences with “developers” but this is a field where you typically get what you pay for. In my opinion, websites like Elance are pretty much useless to any skilled freelancer who resides in a location where the cost of living isn’t relatively cheap (i.e. the United States).

    Sorry for my rant! 🙂 Again, good write-up.

    Ren

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  2. Hi Ren,
    Thanks for the compliment and your thoughts!

    Yeah, places like Elance can simply be a race to the bottom, and that means that cheapness will win. The “winner” will generally come from a place where working for practically nothing is better than starving to death. For even more fun, Odesk takes screenshots every few minutes to make sure you’re not cheating. It’s easy to market this to control freaks, who feel they’re getting robbed at every turn, and who have someone above them chewing their you-know-what to cut expenses to zero.

    Simply keeping track of things by how much work is done is no longer enough. Especially for the salesman who’s trying to make a sale on employee monitoring software. So that’s good for worker morale, being treated as a criminal.

    Then you have the “design contests” where you and a zillion others submit design comps, 99% of you make nothing, and the 1% that gets the job works for less than minimum wage. A joke that’s not even worth considering.

    Being a freelancer does provide plenty of opportunities to become a student of human nature, venial sins, and much worse.

    Reply

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